14/01/2017

Commenting on Additional Attainment Challenge Funding for Dundee Schools

The Scottish Attainment Challenge Logo
Earlier this week, I welcomed the news that Dundee Schools will share an additional £5m of government funding for financial Year 2017/18 to help to close the attainment gap. I am advised that every one of our schools will gain some of the funding which will be shared out according to to the number of pupils in each school entitled to free schools meals. This was originally a Scottish Labour proposal in early 2015 which has since gained all party support. But the original proposal was for additional funding rather than funding to partly compensate for cuts to main stream budgets for our schools.

There are however a number of details yet to be announced which I think Head Teachers, Parent Council members and members of the Children and Families' Service Committee will want to know.

For example how long is the funding likely to last? Will the money be distributed direct to schools or via the Council? How will the spending be monitored and will the schools or the Council be held responsible for this investment? What can our Directorate and Children and Families' Service Committee members do to support our schools?

Notifying head teachers with only a matter of weeks before the spending can commence is potentially a recipe for rushed planning and delayed spending. We saw the latter in the City with the delayed appointments to new posts created by the first tranche of Attainment Challenge projects. Although the Council received approval for its scheme in late August 2015 some staff were still to be appointed in April 2016.

Finally, the Convener of the Children and Families' Service Committee should also clarify the scale of the Council cuts to the mainstream schools budget for 2017/18. If I were a Head Teacher, before I celebrated the additional funding coming from one hand, I should want to also know what funding my school might be losing from the other.